Early in 2017, I was sitting on the floor in my apartment on a video call with our entire development team. It was three in the morning. We were launching a completely rebuilt version of Peerfit.com (featuring full integration with one of the fitness industry's top studio management software programs, MINDBODY).
We’d been putting in extra hours to make sure we delivered on time. But, what I remember most is how much fun we were having that night - sure, some of it was the giddiness of sleep deprivation, but we were working on something we believed in with people we enjoyed.
In the same month, we held a video release party at a rooftop bar in Tampa, FL. The local Peerfit community came out in full force - studios, employers, investors, and partners. We projected the promo video on the building next door. Ed and I said a few words, thanking everyone for their contribution and being part of this movement with us.
I remember scanning the room, soaking in the smiling faces as they watched the video - pointing when they saw themselves on screen. It was a special evening and a vivid depiction of the impact of working all those late nights, early mornings, and long days.
These two stories remind me of the power of diverse thinking. We need extroverts and introverts. We need early birds and night owls. We need builders and sellers. We need creative and list-oriented people. We need men and women. We need thinkers and feelers. We started 2017 with 16 team members. We’ll finish 2017 with 40.
Our team going in to 2017.
Our team at the December 2017 All-Hands meeting.
In one year we went from about 200 studio locations to 2000. Our studio team, led by Chris Patton, is incredible. These folks live all across the country, yet have such amazing relationships and communication with each other. One studio team member couldn’t make it to our Q4 All-Hands meeting, so they printed out her picture and took it to dinner (you can see it set up in the back of the table).
It gets harder and harder to write posts like this because I want to write on and on about each of our departments. I could share what a powerhouse our Marketing team, also known as the “Wolfpack”, has become - that these four ladies have put other marketing teams more than twice their size to shame with the quality and volume of their work. By the way, Maria Juan, who leads that department, was also busy being a first-time mom. Yeah, seriously… what excuse does anyone have now? (shout out to Baby P who occasionally joins us for conference calls).
Or, I could talk about our dev and product teams (thanks to Grooveshark, since that’s where most of them got their start). In an industry where innovation and “tech” are sometimes caught in a time warp. Our developers, designers, and product engineers are absolutely brilliant - constantly pushing us to the cutting edge of the best trends in UI/UX and site architecture. Or, I could talk about our Enterprise Health team - how infectious their enthusiasm is. We often get the opportunity to table at employee benefits conferences. It never fails that our booth (or our team, even if we don’t have a booth) ends up having a swarm of people gathered around them. This team has become adept at finding forward-thinking companies and helping coach them into transforming their workplace culture through wellness.
We brought on some amazing people this year. Just to name a few, here are the folks we added to our leadership team:
Emma’s story is one of my favorites. Before Emma joined Peerfit in February, she was actually one of our first enterprise clients. She led the wellness program at St. Vincent’s Healthworks in Jacksonville, FL. From Melbourne, Australia, she immediately impressed us because she was one of the few wellness directors we’d met who proactively pushed every boundary to help her employees get more from their wellness program. We would get on the phone and talk candidly about how we could adapt aspects of Peerfit to make it even more successful.
It was at St. Vincent’s, with Emma’s help, that we discovered the principle of “building a class habit” which has become one of the cornerstones of our product philosophy. Bringing her on is still one of my proudest moments in Peerfit history.
I hope someday you get the pleasure of meeting Todd. The insurance industry is giant, and sometimes soul-crushing. So, it makes it that much more rare to find someone who can work in it for decades and still maintain his enthusiasm and passion for making people healthier.
Todd has a tremendous (and well-deserved) reputation among insurance carriers and brokers. He’s sold for most of them and helped the rest to be able to sell. He knows what makes the insurance industry tick, but he also sees opportunities for change and growth. We’ve had so many great conversations about all the different paths Peerfit could take. When it comes to finding someone who knows exactly what it takes to sell a new product in the insurance world - Todd is the expert.
Speaking of veterans of the insurance world, we still needed someone from the other side of the insurance house - technology. One of the big barriers that keeps innovation from making its way into large, highly-regulated industries is a disconnect between modern technology and the bureaucratic mandates of security, reporting, and compliance.
Just like it’s rare to find someone who can sell innovative products in that world, it’s equally rare to find someone who knows how to adapt the innovative force of a breakthrough technology company into a product that can speak the “insurance” language. Adam came from running a company that was acquired by Aetna. He’d run the gamut already. So, coming in he was instantly able to navigate the maze of deep integration with the big-data world of insurance. He’s also my surfing buddy here in Jacksonville.
Growing Inside and Out
Even as we were growing our team, we were reaching milestones in client success stories. In January of 2017, we launched a pilot with a large Aetna client, a grocery store chain in North Carolina. It was significant for many reasons: one, it was going to be fully remote (most of our people were still in Florida at this point so we couldn’t easily go on site), and two, it had the most diverse job types of any employer we’d ever worked with. Some of their team worked in cubicles at the corporate office. Some of their team stocked shelves and ran registers at the grocery stores. Others from their team drove trucks or worked in the warehouse.
Aetna wanted data. They wanted to see how effective Peerfit could be for their clients. Much to their credit, they weren’t going to vouch for a wellness program unless they knew it was in the best interest of their customers. So, we conducted pre and post surveys with employees, we monitored engagement closely, and we reported back. What Aetna discovered is now the reason Peerfit and Aetna work so closely. Peerfit had crossed every demographic and taken root as a wellness program that could be both personal and social.
The average Net Promoter Score (“1-10, how likely are you to recommend X to a friend?”) for the insurance industry is 1.2. For fitness it’s 4.3. Peerfit’s Net Promoter Score after just four months with this client was 8.1. So, 81 out of 100 people would actively encourage friends to join Peerfit. Aetna and the client were stunned. But it didn’t stop there. In just a few short months their employees have taken over 2,000 classes. Their HR director reached out to tell us that for the first time ever the HR department received positive comments on their review cards from employees. They were raving about the Peerfit program and how it’s connected them to their coworkers and gotten them back into fitness. Local news outlets started publishing stories about how Aetna and this employer were innovating their wellness program with Peerfit.
Simultaneously, we were growing our studio network. This year we’ve been piloting a partnership with Orangetheory Fitness. Orangetheory was number 60 on Inc magazine’s 2016 list of fastest growing companies. They started the year with over 500 locations and have continued to rapidly spread across the country. They had never allowed a third party service to sell their classes, so it was a huge honor to be working together. The pilot covered four OTF studios in Jacksonville, FL. Suddenly, Peerfit members, with free credits from their employer, could step into Orangetheory and experience one of the best workouts in the country.
If you haven’t tried Orangetheory yet, I highly recommend it!
Helping People Live Healthier
In 2017, we quadrupled reservations, burning over 6.5M calories! We tripled our user base and saw an increase in the average number of classes attended per Peerfitter. Our goal has never been just to give healthy people a way to get healthier. We want to give people who’ve struggled with fitness, and wellness in general, a fresh start. We want to create a community that draws people in and supports them as they find their own personal path to wellness.
Speaking of transforming cultures through wellness, this year we launched a campaign that has grown into our mantra. #RedefineWellness epitomizes what we’re about. The problem wasn’t that the services to make people well didn’t already exist. The problem wasn’t even that the funding wasn’t there. The problem was people were settling for a “weak” definition of wellness.
We define wellness not just by the outcomes, but by how we each operate day-to-day as part of a community. A lot of people don’t realize, but the Peerfit “burst” actually represents the intersection of community - it’s our employers, studios, and users all uniting through Peerfit to be stronger together. We put that value in practice in every way we can: employers support their community by funding credits for their employees, studios support their community by offering the very best fitness experiences in the country, users support their community by encouraging one another and inviting each other to workouts.
The Peerfit community is even extending beyond the platform itself. After the tragic series of hurricanes this year, we organized a campaign called #SweatforRelief, spearheaded by our Director of Client Services, Alexandra Markopoulos. In just one week, #SweatforRelief raised $1000 for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma - Peerfitters took 264 classes at 106 different studios in 26 cities matching donations and giving to the cause.
As we wrap up 2017, we’re about to announce the details on closing our Series B, led by some of the heavy hitters of Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay community specifically, and the Florida community at large, has been very supportive of Ed and me through the years. The Tampa Bay Business Journal honored Peerfit as a Best Place to Work and included Ed (who lives in Tampa) in the 2017 class of Tampa Bay Up & Comers. Now, as we grow, the community continues to surround us, elevating not only Peerfit, but the Florida tech scene to new heights.
I’m incredibly grateful to the amazing people at Peerfit. They are an inspiration not only to myself but to all the lives they touch through our product and service. We can’t say too much just now, but there are BIG things coming soon for Peerfit in 2018. And, I’ve never been more confident in the people behind the vision.